Experiences #1 – Should we continue working with Consultants?

A client gets a call from Site, “Sir, we had been shown an area for stacking excavated rock in the area front of the site. However, there is a hut and its resident is not allowing us to work there.” Sensing an urgency in the situation, he immediately went to site. There in the office, Project managers from all the three stakeholders – Project Managing team, Designers and Contractor were called to understand the situation.

At site, he was told that since no development is coming in that area and it is relatively flatter than the rest of the land, it had chosen by designers to stack excavated rock. They gave the coordinates to Project managing team, who transferred the same to Contractor. In due course, after getting the coordinates, contractor sent his surveyor to that location for demarcating the area precisely. While doing the demarcation, a man illegally residing in that area came and asked the person what is being done in the area. After getting to know the same, he told the surveyor to stop work and not do anything in the region. He reported it to the contractor, who further discussed it with Project managing team and the work halted.

The client was shocked and amused at the same time. One organisation which is being paid in hundreds of millions and other handling the project worth hundred of billions have stopped their work on being asked by a person who isn’t even sure about making a dollar a day. Immediately he went to that area, met the person and told him that the process won’t trouble him who then had nothing to say and the work started. In the whole process, the only thing client had than others was Intent to get the work going.

These multi-million companies have the processes in place; they’d mail and inform the work couldn’t be done because of disturbances at site which would make them safe. However, they lack intent to resolve the issue themselves, which directly affects the project and quality of work.

Similarly, in order to investigate the humongous quantities of rock being excavated at site a client invited experts. Prior to visiting site, they were showed the site plan and geotechnical report which included a plan showing bores. In the main building (which had a substantially large footprint) there were 3 bores shown, distributed throughout the block. Considering the terrain, these 3 were minimal and there could have been a few more bores which would have given a more realistic picture. However, there was something to start with.

Subsequently they reached the site and went to the location of the main building. The geotechnical experts were asked about the location of the bores on the ground. There, they informed that on two of the three bores they were unable to investigate because of poor accessibility. Hence, it infers that structural designer had designed all the foundations based on a speculation which also happens to be much less than half of the actual value. This thus increased the size of the footings, thereby increasing an increase in volume of excavation and concreting quantities which would lead to an increase in both project cost and time. Structural designers have been sub-contracted by Designers and thus are a part of their team. Designers never checked this major anomaly in spite of constant reminders from various people regarding high sizes of foundations and Project managing team had always been giving technical sanction to the reports and design without even checking the geotechnical report.

As informed earlier, consideration of this poor bearing capacity would have led to an increase in project cost. Incidentally, the fee to be paid to Designers and Project Managing Team, is based on % fee of the project cost. If the client would have missed this issue, he would have ended up paying thrice the actual amount for this item. Was he wrong in trusting in the external consultants? If one has to cross-check and re-examine all the propositions and sanctions given by consultants then is there any need to put these consultants?

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